NaKniSweMo Update: The Very Best Frankensweater

So…I promised modification details later.  When I went looking for a sweater pattern to knit for NaKniSweMo, I was thinking about something with stranded colorwork.  I haven’t done it in a while and thought it would be fun and a little bit challenging without being overwhelming.

But I have trouble with traditional round yoke sweaters.   The round yoke has never worked with my figure.  I need some armhole and shoulder line shaping, and I have to be careful about where the colorwork falls in relation to my bust line.  I’m also a big fan of unexpected details that shake up traditional forms.

9616547611_fb62f55b41_nThe first sweater I fell in love with was Three Second Kiss, by Becky Herrick from her book Hitch:Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock.  

I love the wider neck and the deep plunge v-slit neck line.  It’s a little demure, a little sexy, kind of traditional, kind of retro and very contemporary all at the same time.  I swooned.  But the more I looked at it the more I was thinking about modifications.  The sizing is a little odd for me so I would have to do some of my own math to make the shaping come out right.  The colorwork comes down pretty far onto the bust line.  And there is no shaping at the armhole.  And, while I love the shape of it, I don’t love the Bohus style, with it’s purls in the colorwork, as much as I love traditional Faire Isle or Scandinavian.

So, while I fell in love with the details, the general shape and style would require a lot of fiddling to get what I was looking for .

It’s always a lot easier to modify a pattern by adding, subtracting or changing details than it is to modify the basic architecture of a sweater.  I’m capable of doing it, but I wanted this NaKniSweMo sweater to use a little bit less of my brain power than that.  Hmmm.  What to do?  I kept on looking.

plumALT_medium2The next lovely thing I ran across was Plum Rondo a la Turk, by Julia Farwell-Clay first published on Knitty.  I am a big woman and I can carry a big concept sweater.  This one is a stunner.  The “Turkish” style motifs of the yoke are very different from anything traditional I have ever seen in a round yoke sweater.  But there’s the rub for me.  Again the round yoke has no shaping, and the colorwork comes well down to completely cover the bust line.

If I were to bring the armholes up to give my upper sleeves the shaping they need, I’d be cutting into the color motif.  If I were to leave the sleeves as they are, my arms would look proportionally short and my upper arms look like an extension of my bust.  I have joked in the past that round yokes and most raglan sleeves make me look like I have four breasts instead of the allotted two.  With color spanning all the way across, this problem get worse.

I really need that differentiation between my bust and my upper arms.  But, again, modifying this pattern would mean modifying the entire architecture.  Way more brain power than I want to put into this project.  It’s easier the find an architecture that I can embellish by changing details.  The things I love the most about this sweater are the boldness of the colors and the simplicity and large format of the motifs.

Looking deeply at these two gave me a list of things I like and don’t like.  I like the surprising details of the neckline in the first example and they are things I could carry into another design.  I could certainly hold onto the brilliant and bold colors of the second beauty.  But I needed to find the right architecture and sizing to make the basic template.

Chickadee pattern from Little Red in the CityThe next design I ran across was Chickadee, by Ysolda Teague, first published in her book Little Red In The City.  Now I was getting somewhere.  Ysolda has an understanding of how to scale patterns from smaller sizes to larger ones without just making everything bigger.  Chickadee has color work well above the bust line so it frames the face rather than emphasizing the arm/bust area.  It also has the beginnings of raglan shaping high up on the arm line that differentiates between the arm and bust before the round colorwork begins.  Looking good so far.

The sizing and proportions work for me.  No need to do a lot of math on my own to alter the underlying template.  But I’m not so much in love with the actual motifs themselves.  The birds are darling, but I wanted something more abstract like a traditional Scandinavian motif with bolder colors.

And it’s a cargidan.  *sigh*  Not what I was looking for.

Then it occurred to me that Ysolda might have other designs that have the same basic architecture of Chickadee, but in a pullover.  I went looking through her catalog and…Bingo!

9359227424_8dae23ace1_zMeet Strokkur, by Ysolda Teague, published in her Ravelry store.  I love the semi raglan arm shaping above the bust that will clearly prove that my arms go all the way up and are not actually extra breasts on top.  I love the subtle waist shaping.  I love the short row shaping that makes the neck line a flattering scoop.  I love the higher, narrower round yoke that frames the face and slightly broadens the shoulders.  I love the traditional Icelandic look of the motifs.  I love it.

Except…  You knew there was going to be an except, right?  I find that full length sleeves drag through stuff and get caught on things unless I push them well up onto my forearms.  Hence, I’m a big fan of 3/4 length sleeves.  Easy enough.  I can adjust sleeve length easier than almost anything.

Almost every day, I wear full skirts the come to my actual waist, which is rather higher than strictly normal so I don’t need all the body length of Strokkur.  Again, easy enough.

And this is where the fun begins.  I also have trouble with ribbing if it hits even a little bit below my natural waist.  And one of the things I loved about Three Second Kiss was the hem at the bottom.  In fact all the things I love about Three Second Kiss, the wider split neck, the color on the sleeves, the hem, are easy to apply to Strokkur.  And I’ve Chosen bright bold colors very like the colors of rondo Plum a la turk.
2448s9404s8885s2436sBody in Cascade 220 Mallard #2448

Yoke in Cascade 220 Dark Plum #8885, Ruby #9404 and Mimosa #2436.


I think I’m going to love this beautiful creation that I’m cobbling together from bits from here and inspiration from there.  I’ll let you know how I get on.


Written by mim


4 Comments on “NaKniSweMo Update: The Very Best Frankensweater

  1. This is great! I, too, struggle with making a sweater fit my Junoesque figure, but had not really thought about how that translated to patterns like these – great post, can’t wait to see the sweater.

    • Thanks, Sarah, for your kind words. I spent many years wearing clothes that didn’t fit as well as I wanted them to, but it took an epic shopping trip with my sister and her repeating over and over, “There’s nothing wrong with your body. It’s the clothes that don’t fit.” Her critical eye taught me shop much more wisely. It was a real revelation when I started applying that same eye to knitting patterns. You tell me what works for your figure and I’ll definitely keep you posted on my progress.


  2. Hi Mim!

    This is Penny, the person who came in to the shop on Halloween wearing my Strokkur sweater. I’m so glad that you liked it, and that you’ve decided to knit the same (with mods) sweater. It was a delightful knit.

    My sister and I are really excited about June’s knitting cruise!

    • Hi, Penny! Your Strokkur was indeed my inspiration. They say when one is ready, the right teacher comes along. I’m delighted that you come in when you did and were wearing that sweater. I’m certain I never would have found it on my own.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *